AOMA Blog

A Shiatsu Q&A with Billy Zachary, MSOM, LAc

Posted by Nicole Fillion-Robin on Sat, Jun 29, 2019 @ 04:00 AM

Faculty_Headshot_HiR_BillyZacharyBilly Zachary is a licensed acupuncturist with over ten years of experience working as a professional practitioner. Since earning his master’s degree from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in 2004, he has completed extensive training in the Hakomi method of mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy. He maintains an active clinical practice in Austin, Texas where he specializes in the use of acupuncture & herbal medicine in the treatment of emotional trauma.

In his previous life, he trained and taught Kuk Sool Won, a traditional Korean martial art that emphasizes mindfulness, meditation, joint locking and pressure points, though he currently practices and volunteers at Aikido of Austin. His first forays into East Asian medicine was in Shiatsu.


How did you get started as a Shiatsu practitioner? Any favorite instructors that you follow? 
 
Pam Ferguson was my Shiatsu teacher, and feel lucky to say that I was mentored by Jaime Wu while I was in school. Both practice with a clarity of focus that shines through in their treatments and teaching, matched only by their kindness and goodwill.   

Shiatsu is like one part bodywork, one part qi gong.  As the practitioner treats the patient, they work on their own qi. Practiced correctly, at the end of a session you should feel refreshed, and relaxed. 
 
This work helped me get through the program when I was an acupuncture student (back in the days of  dialup, pagers and dinosaurs). It is the work I can turn to if I am burned out, exhausted, or not feeling at my best. 
 

Can you describe how Shiatsu is different from other types of bodywork?

It uses the meridian system, and is very compatible with the diagnostic thinking we use with acupuncture.  It give the practitioner the opportunity to treat and diagnosis through touch, and adjust their treatments accordingly. 

Are there various types within the broader style of Shiatsu? Which form do you practice?

There are a bunch of kinds. I teach Zen Shiatsu. Superficially, it looks like acupressure with the stretches from Thai Yoga massage. 

What kind of patients do you feel it works best on? Do you often combine it with acupuncture or do either/or? Is your pricing structure typically more if you do bodywork?

All kinds! And it can integrate with acupuncture, at all levels. It can be part of your diagnosis, part of warming up, or part of finishing. Or a smidge of acupuncture can be used along a full Shiatsu treatment.

I do charge more for Shiatsu time, because I cannot treat in two rooms at once.

 

How do you get certified as a practitioner? Is it through AOBTA? How do students get clinical hours as of now?

You have to complete AOBTA's requirements, just as you would with Tuina.  Most of those are already taken care of by your acupuncture training.  I believe students need to have the appropriate hours of Shiatsu class, and then hours logged in clinic. Anyone can arrange to do a Shiatsu clinic when I am on campus supervising a clinic. 

 

How long have you taught Shiatsu?

I'm new at teaching this, but I have taught martial arts for a long time (think VHS and new homes were still under $90k). The method of teaching both draws from many of the same skills.  As I continue to teach, I am fortunate to have my teacher in town, who I go to mentorship and guidance.  

Are there any videos or books you recommend for students to get a sense of what you teach on campus? I looked up Shiatsu on youtube and found this video. Please tell me we'll learn this.

That looks fun! It would be interesting to see how that method works with a patient larger than yourself, with cervical issues! So, that is not quite what I teach. 

Here is a video, low quality and old, by the founder of Zen Shiatsu. The focus is on what is happening at the point of contact, and past it, and forgoes the acrobatics for focus and meditation.  

In terms of reading, I recommend Shiatsu Theory and Practice

 

Thank you so much for your time Billy! Shiatsu 1 is offered this coming summer term for AOMA Students. 

Topics: asian bodywork therapy, tcm education, musculoskeletal health, preventative medicine, pain management, shiatsu, AOBTA

9 Things to know about Musculoskeletal Health

Posted by Jing Fan, LAc on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 @ 02:21 PM

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Back pain and general muscle soreness are common problems for many people. Understanding correct force postures and maintaining your musculoskeletal system will help to both treat and prevent pain and disease. 

What causes musculoskeletal pain? 

The most common causes of musculoskeletal pain are soft tissue injuries (such as car accidents and sports injuries) and aging. Qi stagnation, Blood stasis, poor posture, and some life factors such as lack of exercise and excessive muscle use, can also contribute. In addition, dietary factors, mental factors, and other diseases such as cancer, gastrointestinal discomfort, dysmenorrhea, etc. can cause musculoskeletal pain.

The above factors cause muscle contraction, vasospasm, lactic acid accumulation, accumulation of inflammatory substances, and nerve excitement. They also lead to spasms of muscle and blood vessels which are not easily relieved, causing more metabolites to be developed. Such an abundance of inflammatory substances is too much to be taken away by normal blood flow, leading to a vicious cycle of dysfunction of muscle contraction and metabolism. Then the body will feel soreness, pain, pressure and tingling. So any methods which can increase blood circulation would be excellent ways to treat musculoskeletal pain!

What are the correct postures to prevent musculoskeletal pain?

The most common musculoskeletal pains are due to poor posture; for example, back pain. Being aware of correct posture during all activities can prevent back pain, but most especially when:

1. Picking up items

Bend your knees instead of bending your back. Avoid lifting heavy items with a bent back and straight legs, and do not twist the body when lifting. Try lifting items close to the body using your legs to provide the force, and you should not lift items higher than your chest. Sometimes using a pad will help, and of course it would be better to find someone to help you when lifting a very heavy item.

2. Standing and Walking

A good walking position is with raised head and lowered chin, with the toes facing forward and wearing a pair of comfortable shoes. When you are standing, do not stand too long in one posture. Avoid bending back with straight legs. Do not wear high heels or flat shoes to walk or stand for a long period of time. 

3. Sitting Position

Chair height should be moderate in order to keep the knees and buttocks at the same height. It is appropriate that the feet can step on the ground. Your back should be close to the back of chair. Pay attention to the height of the chair armrest and make sure to keep your arms naturally drooping with both elbows resting on the armrest. Do not sit in a chair which is too high or too far away from your work in order to prevent your upper body from leaning forward and your back from arching. Do not slouch in the chair, which has the potential to cause cervical spondylosis and numbness of hands. Such problems most often occur in people who use the computer for long periods of time.

4. Driving a Car

Your seat should move forward in order to keep the knees as high as the waist. Sit straight and hold the steering wheel with both hands when driving. Protect your lower back with cushions or rolls of towels. Do not sit too far away from the pedal, which may cause excessive stretching of the foot and leg or straightening of the arm, which can reduce the curvature of the spine.

5. Sleeping

Sleep on a solid mattress. A good sleep will do great help to your back. When side sleeping, slightly bend your knees. A pillow can be caught between the legs. When sleeping on your back, it is better to put a pad below the knees.

Traditional Chinese medicine for musculoskeletal pain 

6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture, with the theory of "Pain to Shu" to find the appropriate point of pain to do the needling, often has a magical effect on pain. Modern studies have shown that acupuncture can improve blood circulation, increase endorphin levels, and inhibit nerve conduction in order to relieve pain.

7. Tuina

Tuina, which is a type of traditional Asian bodywork therapy, can soothe fascia, activate meridians, promote muscle rigidity, improve fibrosis, relieve pain and fatigue, and restore the original muscle function. Asian bodywork combined with acupressure can often achieve a better effect than either modality used alone. 

8. Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy

Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy integrate hyperthermia and traditional Chinese herbal medicine to increase muscle blood circulation, reduce pain, and restore the original muscle function.

9. Chinese herbal medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that pain comes from the stasis or malnutrition of Qi and Blood. Chinese herbal medicine can adjust the patient’s constitution to improve blood circulation and PH and strengthen bones and tendons. Commonly used herbal formulas for the treatment of pain can regulate Qi, stimulate blood circulation, dispel wind, drain cold and dampness, and tonify the Liver and Kidney.

This article is written by Dr. Jing Fan, a practitioner at AOMA Clinics. AOMA Acupuncture Clinics offers all of the above Chinese Medicine treatment options, as well as the benefit of an herbal medicine store on site. Please make an appointment with us today!

Request an Appointment

Topics: acupuncture, tcm health, musculoskeletal health

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